Sunday, May 06, 2001

Findlay's 'Mr. Pig' opens Vine St. cafe

By Chuck Martin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Finally, Paul Sebron has a roof over his head.

        For nearly six years, as owner of Mr. Pig, Mr. Sebron has been the creator of all that delicious-smelling smoke outside Findlay Market in Over-the-Rhine. With only a store front and limited kitchen space, he grilled pork rib tips and chicken on the sidewalk — no matter what the weather.

        But in March, Mr. Sebron bought a place with a warmer and drier atmosphere — the renovated Stenger's Cafe on nearby Vine Street. He calls the place Stenger's Cafe & Mr. Pig, Too, but assures patrons he still will be grilling as usual at Findlay. Mr. Sebron also realizes he'll have to please many of the long-time loyal customers of Stenger's.

[photo] Paul Sebron (right) and Gene Walker barbeque at Mr. Pig.
(Tony Jones photo)
| ZOOM |
        “I know people will remember the traditions of Leo Sunderman and Stenger's,” he says. “And we will pay homage to those traditions. But we also want to show people we can do something new.”

        Mr. Sunderman opened Stenger's Cafe in 1947 and made it famous for sauerbraten, mock turtle soup, meat loaf and other diner specialties, until he retired in 1999. Mr. Sunderman sold Stenger's to restaurateur Doug Bootes, who replaced the floor and rehabbed the kitchen. Mr. Bootes then leased the restaurant to Mr. Sebron this year.

        A graduate of Queen City Culinary Academy and veteran of Trio in Kenwood and other kitchens, Mr. Sebron has opened with a modest menu of sandwiches, gumbo and other soups and a daily special of open-faced roast beef sandwich with mashed potatoes. “Soulful Thursdays” feature pork ribs, whipped yams, greens and macaroni and cheese. Special prices begin at $5 and range $3-$5.25 for sandwiches.

        Mr. Sebron hopes to bring back sauerbraten and other German favorites — he received training in German cooking while working with chef Erwin Pfeil at the Golden Lamb in Lebanon.

        After a soft opening and then a setback during the April riots in Over-the-Rhine, Mr. Sebron says he's now ready for serious business at Stenger's.

        “We've come through a stormy period,” he says. “But we're going to offer the goods and services we have, and maybe that period will make us better.”

       Stenger's Cafe and Mr. Pig, Too (1720 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine) is open 6:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Lunch service begins at 11 a.m.; dinner at 6 p.m. Call ahead for daily specials: 651-2251.


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